Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Lutheran Pastor Reads the Pope's Encyclical: On Care for Our Common Home, Part II

Pope Francis lifts up five inter-connected concerns for the care of our common home. Each of these are also concerns shared by Lutherans, so I offer links to resources on each:

1. Biodiversity:
2. Water:
3. Climate:
4. Social decline:
5. Global inequality: Reformation observances three year focus,

He writes, "It needs to be said that, generally speaking, there is little in the way of clear awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded. Yet they are the majority of the planet's population, billions of people. These days, they are mentioned in international political and economic discussions, but one often has the impress that their problems are brought up as an afterthought, a question which gets added almost out of duty or in a tangential way, if not treated merely as collateral damage.... this is due partly to the fact that many professional, opinion makers, communications media and centers of power, being located in affluent urban areas, are far removed from the poor, with little direct contact with their problems. They live and reason from the comfortable position of a high level of development... today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor."

Here once again the pope is offering reasoned argumentation bringing the plight of the earth and the plight of the poor together, over against the powers. He is incredibly repetitive about this, because there is little in the way of clear awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded. When awareness is lacking, you have to say the same thing over and over again to raise awareness.

Notice also that the pope writes to "all people of good will." He is an excellent communicator in a secular context. He speaks from his own confessional position, to all, without compromising his own commitments or denigrating those who do not share his faith. He holds his faith lightly, openly. He is modeling the new evangelization he has called the church to engage.

In fact, instead of apologizing for writing a "secular" encyclical, he makes the exact opposite apology.
"Why should this document, addressed to all people of good will, include a chapter dealing with the convictions of believers?" 
Pope Francis believes that intense dialogue between science and religion can yield fruitful results. He also believes it is important for him to offer his own faith perspective in the wider context of a conversation for all people of good will, precisely in order to be authentic to who he is, what his faith, within that overall conversation.

If you enter a conversation, you come as yourself. He comes as the pope. So "the gospel of creation" is integral to a wider statement on the care of our common earth, and so it will be that gospel of creation to which we will turn in the next post.

Read the first installment in this series here:

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